The Zero Tool Is Here!

The Zero Tool calculates fossil fuel energy consumption for existing buildings and new building designs, and normalizes a building’s performance for comparison to reduction targets and other buildings.

Architecture 2030 introduces the Zero Tool, a free innovative online application that allows architects, designers, engineers, building owners and managers, and policymakers to calculate building energy consumption baselines and targets. The Zero Tool normalizes building performance by climate, space type, building size, occupancy, and schedule, allowing users to compare a new or existing building’s fossil fuel energy consumption with other buildings.

“The Zero Tool offers an intuitive and powerful way to establish energy consumption baselines and energy use reduction targets, and to see how an existing building or building design’s energy consumption compares to other buildings and baselines.” Edward Mazria, CEO, Architecture 2030.

Evolving From the EPA’s Target Finder

Until recently, the EPA’s ENERGY STAR Target Finder has been the primary application for determining a building’s site energy use intensity (EUI) baseline and design target. However, the EPA is planning to change the ENERGY STAR baseline from the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS 2003) to CBECS 2012. And now, preliminary budget proposals from the White House indicate plans that may “close out” ENERGY STAR programs altogether.

The Zero Tool’s analysis engine uses the CBECS 2003 dataset, an industry baseline that has been agreed upon by most building sector organizations including Architecture 2030, ASHRAE, AIA, and USGBC. The Zero Tool will also allow those designing to the 2030 Challenge and other targets to maintain pre-existing baselines, in order to continue to measure their progress.

The Zero Tool expands on Target Finder’s features, providing simple, clear, and graphic results for visualizing baselines, design targets, and existing building performance.

Zero Score for Easy Building Comparison

A Zero Score is a value calculated for an existing building or building design, which indicates a building’s energy performance and progress towards achieving Zero Net Carbon. It provides a method for comparing buildings across all types and sizes.

The baseline score of 100 represents a typical modern building with an energy consumption profile based on data from the 2003 Commercial Building Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS) or the 2001 Residential Energy Consumption Survey (RECS) and normalized by climate, space type, building size, occupancy, and schedule. A score of 0 represents a Zero Net Carbon building.

The Zero Score calculation methodology is aligned with methodologies used by the Zero Energy Performance Index (zEPI) and the Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index.

Who Will Use the Zero Tool?

  • AIA 2030 Commitment signatories, architects, designers, and 2030 Challenge adopters can use the Zero Tool to establish design project baselines and targets, and to demonstrate that completed projects meet the targets.
  • 2030 District members can use the tool to establish energy baselines and reduction targets for new and existing buildings, as well as assess their progress towards meeting District energy goals.
  • Policymakers throughout North America can use the Zero Tool to benchmark their existing building stock in a comparable way and identify how incremental performance targets can be introduced into policies that increase city-wide energy efficiency, energy upgrades, and renewable energy programs.

“The Zero Tool is designed to be a great platform from the outset,” said Erin McDade, Zero Tool Project Manager at Architecture 2030. “But we’re also going to be adding exciting new features in the coming months.”

The Zero Tool is free to use, comes with a detailed User Guide, and is available at zerotool.org.